tv World War II Victory in Europe 70th Anniversary Flyover CSPAN May 10, 2015 9:34pm-10:01pm EDT
o you for being with us and the white house historical association for their help in producing this series. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> american history tv featuring
c-span's original series "first ladies" at 8:00 p.m. eastern time on sunday nights throughout the rest of the year. next, we look at rachel johnson. this is american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span 3. >> from the national mall in washington d.c., the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of victory in europe day continues. may 8 marks the day when germany surrendered to allied forces, ending world war ii in europe. next, a flyover by world war ii aircraft. the planes fly in formations representing the major battles of world war ii, from pearl harbor, through the assault on japan.
>> the wildcat and the gauntlet. when the u.s. marines stormed the shores in august of 1942, they had reached their peak. this bold, unexpected offensive would prove to be a critical turning point in the war on the pacific. a small airfield on the island was the focal point of six months of fierce battles on the ground, in the air, and on the ground -- and on the sea. by the time the japanese conceded, nearly 25,000 japanese and 1600 americans had been killed with house and more dead from malaria and other diseases. central to the battle was the wildcat, which operated from
carriers by u.s. navy pilots, and from henderson field, by marine pilots throughout the campaign. although badly outmatched by the mitsubishi zero, the wildcats were able to hold their own because of their rugged construction and unique battle tactics developed by naval aviators. by the end of 1943 the first of a new fighter were being deployed to the pacific theater. during the early battles in the pacific in 1942 and 1943, it was the wildcat that shouldered the burden as america's principal carrier-based fighter. the wildcats that you will see today are both the fm-2 variants built by general motors and applied on smaller carriers for anti-submarine and picket duty.
interestingly, pilots of the wildcats have told me that rather than flipping a switch to raise the landing gear, after they took off, they maintained 90 or 95 miles an hour, put their left hand on the stick instead of the right hand, and took the right hand to crank the landing gear up 29 turns to get it up. it was not a fun airplane in the pattern. ladies and gentlemen, here comes the wildcat.
the commander-in-chief of the japanese combined fleet and mastermind behind japan's attack on pearl harbor, in the spring of 1943, american codebreakers intercepted a message with his itinerary for an airplane trip between two islands in the solomon islands area. on april 18, a flight of 18 lockheed lightning's was dispatched. on a long, low altitude route designed to evade enemy radar and maximize the element of surprise. here comes the devil, the p 38 lightning, which shut down yamamoto's plane.
the mission, nicknamed operation vengeance, not only avenged the deaths of 2400 americans at pearl harbor but deprived the japanese of one of their finest military strategists. known as hitler's gas station it was a huge complex of romanian oil refineries that supplied germany with more than one third of its fuel. after identifying it as a high-priority target, military strategists opted for a single rate by b 24 bombers, attacking from an altitude of 2400 feet. the low altitude would help the americans avoid enemy radar and increase accuracy of their
bombs, but would also put the aircraft and cruise at greater risk. the b 24 was selected because it was the only u.s. bomber that could manage the 2400 mile round-trip. though complex and finicky to fly and maintain, the u.s. produced more b 24 bombers than any other. in 1944, assembly lines rolled out a new one every 58 minutes. the americans lost nearly one third of their bombers and 500 airmen during that raid on august 1 1933 -- 1943. they adopted a new strategy of raids from higher altitude with long-range flyer escorts. as a tax on the oil finery is of romania continued during the summer of 1944, american forces
pushed into france. general arnold noted the increasing number of vehicles along the side of the road that had just run out of gas. here's the liberator with the mustang. in the early days of the war after the allies decided the british would conduct nighttime bombing raids on german targets and the americans would bomb during daylight hours, mission losses were horrific. without escorts, the u.s. bombers suffered unsustainable losses. by some estimates, the fatality rate of b-17 and b 24 cruise was put at nearly 50%. that began to change with the introduction of the mustang. when outfitted with external fuel tanks -- here come the
mustangs. mustangs also flown by the 332nd fighter group, the red tail squadron of the tuskegee airmen. the german air force was struggling to survive. in a single week, the allies that they had seen the end. there was a series of large-scale bombing raids on german aviation factories. on several raids, more than 1000 bombers were sent against her targets. the allies dropped over 20 million pounds between february 20 and february 25. the raids were intended to debate german fighters into the air where nearly 900 mustangs engaged them. the german air force lost one
third of its remaining single-engine fighters that month. 18% of its pilots. u.s. forces suffered as well. in more than 3000 sorties, 247 b-17's were lost, despite the bomber's almost uncanny ability to withstand damage. outfitted with 13 50 caliber machine guns in eight different locations, the crew of the b-17 flu this aircraft, earning the nickname, flying fortress, with the ability to fly long distances with a bomb payload of about 6000 pounds. these aircraft were the workhorse of america's strategic bombing campaign in europe.
four 1200 horsepower motors allowed the b-17 to lumber at high altitudes but it was not a pressurized aircraft. when they had to fly where it was cool, crew members wore suits that had electric wires in them to keep them warm. they were oxygen masks and would come back from missions with marks on their faces from frostbite that was created from being at such high altitude at low temperatures. over 12,000 b-17's were built remaining flying today anywhere in the world, somewhere around a dozen. it is part of the reason that we love to see these airplanes fly. so few are still in existence today. the p 51 mustang long-range
about 11,000 of those were built and about 1100 remain flyable around the world today, some with turbine conversions. the june 19, 1944 battle was the largest carrier-tech carrier battle in history. it included 15 aircraft carriers and more than 100 supporting ships. the u.s. navy arrived to capture
the island for use as a base to bomb japan. by nightfall, japan had lost more than two thirds of the carrier aircraft it committed to the battle. one pilot shot down 16 japanese dive bombers in less than eight minutes. american losses were 29 aircraft, plus a nominal damage to a single battleship. the superiority of u.s. pilots was so dramatic that the battle came to be known as the great mariana's turkey shoot. the battle included the loss of 11 japanese ships, including three aircraft carriers. the u.s. navy attacked enemy ships, dive bombers and torpedo bombers. what you will see here today are two torpedo bombers and a single held either, the only hell diver of over 7000 built that is still
flying today. the battle eliminated the japanese navy's ability to conduct large-scale carrier operations, giving the u.s. a new level of naval dominance that lasted until the end of the war. >> ladies and gentlemen, we have two guests with us today senator robert dold and senator warner. they are in the front row. let's hear it for them. >> ladies and gentlemen, here come the two avengers and the curtis helldiver, nicknamed the big tailed beast. the battle of the bulge was
germany's last major offensive campaign in world war ii. it began in mid-december of 1944 as a surprise attack on american forces in belgium. the battle would involve more than 500,000 germans, 600,000 americans, and 50,000 british troops. characterized by cold temperatures and overcast skies the battle demonstrated how thoroughly air support had been integrated into contemporary military operations. the allies' inability to dominate the skies prolonged the german offensive. the return of air support helped the allies achieved victory in the battle. it began on december 16, through a german attack designed to catch the allies unaware. the germans wanted to capture the belgian harbor of antwerp. that offensive against unprepared american defenses created a large 80-mile wide
bulge in the allied lines. one of the aircraft that drove the germans back was the a-26 invader, built by douglas. immortalized forever by the photo of marines raising the u.s. flag, the battle of iwo jima helped your -- helped secure three airfields and provided the united states with an important staging area for the much-anticipated invasion of the japanese homeland. it is a testament to the ferocity of the fighting on you will jim a that more than 25,000 -- on iwo jima that more than 25,000 marines were wounded and 19,000 soldiers from the japanese were killed.
initially designed as a carrier-based fighter, the pilot set are back in the fuselage and his view was restricted because of the motor the propeller, and a huge fuel tank, making landings extremely challenging's on the deck of a carrier. early models went to land-based marine pilots, who put the speed and armament to effective use in dogfights and ground support. eventually pilots shot down 11,000 japanese aircraft for every corsair lost. by the beginning of 1945, marine corps pilots were flying low-level missions with palms -- with bombs, rockets, and napalm. the japanese called this airplane "whistling death." some of you remember the black sheep squadron, led by patty
boyington. he was older than the rest of the guys in the squadron. he was 28. he also racked up 28 kills during his career. ladies and gentlemen, from the right, and directly in front of you, here comes the corsair, the bent wing bird. the v-29 super fortress built by boeing could carry 20,000 pounds of bombs to more than 2000 miles away at an altitude of 30,000 feet. it was able to fly above most of japan's defenses. instead of conventional gun terrace, the b-29s weapons hoped
from the fuselage, linked through a remote control system that was a marvelous technology in the 1940's. by the time they entered the war, an earlier generation of heavy bombers leveled much of germany. the super forces were deployed to china and the marianas islands. the move to the islands put the aircraft within 1500 miles of tokyo, well within the bombers' range. it wasn't long before the b-29's destroyed nearly every strategic target in japan. the only aircraft then capable of delivering the world's first nuclear bombs modified super forces, joined their comrades in the early summer of 1945. on august 6, the in all the gay dropped a bomb -- the enola gay dropped a bomb on the city of hiroshima. two days later boxcar destroyed
nagasaki. the japanese surrendered unconditionally. the surrender was formalized on september 2 of 1945. compared to the 12,000 plus b-17 's and 18,000 plus liberators that were built, production of the b-29 was about 4000. it was rushed to the service. it was fraught with engine problems so great that engines were routinely swapped out after only 25 hours of flying time. just shy of 4829 super fortresses were built by boeing and bell. and also martin aircraft.
the ability for the b-29 to fly at such high altitudes is because it is the first u.s. aircraft that was pressurized enabling the crew to be operating the aircraft in normal kind of temperatures. ladies and gentlemen, here comes the b-29. over 12 million americans answered the nation's call over the course of the second world war. we are going to have now what is known as a missing man formation. it serves to remind us of those
who sacrificed their future for our nation, and is a tradition which dates back to world war ii. the symbolic moment when the single aircraft breaks formation, leaving behind his comrades in arms. ladies and gentlemen, please help us recognize our fallen heroes and stand while "taps'" is being played. ♪ ["taps" playing] ♪